Best Practice Action Detail

Best Practice Action 15.2

GreenStep City Best Practices: Environmental Management
Sustainable Purchasing No. 15

Adopt environmentally preferable purchasing policies and practices to improve health and environmental outcomes.

Best Practice Action 2

Purchase energy used by city government - via the municipal utility, green tags, community solar garden, 3rd party - with a higher renewable percentage than required by Minnesota law.

  • The renewable grid mix requirements for public electric utilities (and Xcel Energy) are 17% (25%) by 2016, 21.5% (31.5%) by 2020, and 26.5% by 2025.
  • Most utilities in Minnesota offer green power or green pricing programs whereby a city can purchase green tags (RECs, or Renewable Energy Credits) that assure additional renewable energy generating capacity is built.
  • Read about the 2016 Governmental Solar Garden Subscriber Collaborative, a joint effort by and for 31 local governments in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan region that procured solar garden subscriptions via a single Request for Proposals (RFP) process to offset the energy usage at public facilities. By working together, the participants sought to gain an economy of scale in the solicitation process that could help to attract developers, reduce the administrative burden to vet those developers, and yield better pricing and subscription terms. Cities used their B3 data to gauge the maximum amount of electricity they could subscribe to. In 2018 a similar joint purchasing program, Solar Possible, facilitated purchase of 4 MWs of solar PV systems, via a joint RFP and a master contract, by nearly a dozen cities/government units, with cost savings of 10-15%. See also the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's group-buy Solarize program.
  • Third-party solar (see a model RFP and other documentes) agreements have a city lease city-owned roof (or other) space to a company that installs & owns generating capacity used by the city. Or the city signs a power purchase agreement from generating capacity not on city property. Because a private company can take advantage of any state/federal tax credits, energy costs to the city are typically lower than the local utility rate.
  • For actions and resources related to creating local renewable energy generation capacity, see the GreenStep renewable energy best practice. Note that starting in June 2019 the Great Plains Institute will work with a group of cities - the Renewable Energy Procurement Network - interested in increasing access to renewable energy.
1 star Purchase above the renewable electricity grid mix required in state law: purchased renewable energy credits ("green tags") and/or a city government subscription of electricity from a community solar garden and/or a "third-party" agreement whereby the city leases roof (or other) space to a company that installs & owns generating capacity sold to the city. Report 'behind the meter' city-generated/used renewable energy under actions 1.7 or 20.6 or 22.5; report city promotion of resident/business purchases from a community solar garden under 26.4
2 star Purchase electricity, natural gas, liquid fuels & steam heat such that in total the energy content of renewables makes up at least 35% of total city operations energy; report if municipal utility generation mix is above that required by MN law; report city council direction to its muni (via board appointments, annual goals/reports/funding) to accelerate work on city clean energy goals.
3 star Purchase 100% renewable electricity for city operations from a solar garden, 3rd party, or via green tags; purchase electricity, natural gas, liquid fuels & steam heat such that in total energy content renewables make up at least 50%; join the Green Power Partnership.

Who's doing it

Inver Grove Heights - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
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Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
A ground-source, closed-loop geothermal system was installed in City Hall in 2012. In 2016, solar panels (capacity of 796,000 kWh) were installed on the roof of City Hall and the Veterans Memorial Community Center to supply energy to these buildings. The City also has 10 community solar contracts. Each contract is estimated to produce approximately 300,000 kWh for a total of 3,000,000 kWh annually.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Partners:
Jordan - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
On April 17, 2017, the City of Jordan’s City Council approved the city to move forward and finalize a contract with ReneSola – a community solar company. After that, the city will offset 120% of its electricity usage from a community solar garden, saving about $3,000,000 over the 25 year contract.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The cost savings associated with going solar, and the amount of carbon emissions eliminated, will ultimately be used to judge this action.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Nathan Fuerst (City staff) | nfuerst@jordanmn.gov | 952-492-7929
Partners: ReneSola
Lake Elmo - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
City Council approved a subscription agreement with US solar to buy into a community solar garden to supply all City energy for PV panels.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
City operations electricity 100% renewable
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908
Partners: US Solar
Minnetonka - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
In 2017, the City of Minnetonka began purchasing electric energy from a solar garden (WGL Energy). In 2017, 32% of the City's full electric load was from 100% solar produced, and the remaining 68% of the energy usage was from 25% renewable.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Drew Ingvalson (City staff) | dingvalson@eminnetonka.com | 952-939-8293
Partners:
Oakdale - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
On October 24, 2017, the Oakdale City Council authorized entering into a subscription agreement for the purchase of 4.68 million kWh of electricity annually from a community solar garden. This amount is 120% of the city's annual electricity usage in its operations.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Over the lifetime of the agreement, over 110 million kWh will be generated from a clean energy resource, which otherwise would produce 77,475 metric tons of GHG emissions. That is the equivalent amount of the annual emissions from 16,365 passenger vehicles. Additionally, the City will see a significant financial benefit from its participation.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jen Hassebroek (City staff) | jen.hassebroek@ci.oakdale.mn.us | 651-730-2723
Partners: Innovative Power Systems
Saint James - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
The City of St. James receives its power from St. James Public Utility. Currently 9% of our electricity comes from wind resources and 63% is supplied by hydropower. Overall, renewable energy supplies 72% of total purchases by the City of St. James, 78% of the total power is carbon-free.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Sam Hansen (City staff) | Sam.Hansen@ci.stjames.mn.us | 507-375-5090
Partners:
Shoreview - 3 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The City has been a member of Xcel's Windsource program for a number of years. All of the City's electricity is purchased under this program.
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Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Ellen Brenna (City staff) | ebrenna@shoreviewmn.gov | 651-490-4665
Partners:
Elk River - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The city government receives its power from our Municipal Utility. 11% comes from our landfill gas plant, 1.5% comes from wind, and the remaining renewables come from hydropower in Manitoba and GRE's refuse-derived-fuel facility. Altogether, renewables account for about 20% of our energy needs.
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Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff) | ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov | 763-635-1068
Partners:
Marshall - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The City of Marshall receives its power from Marshall Municipal Utility. Currently 15% of our electricity comes from wind resources and 17% is supplied by hydropower. Overall, renewable energy supplies 32% of total purchases by the City of Marshall.
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Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Mark Antony (City staff) | MarkA@marshallutilities.com | (507) 537-7005
Partners: Marshall Municipal Utilities
Moorhead - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
City of Moorhead currently purchases its energy through Moorhead Public Service, whose power mix consists of 50% hydropower, 4% wind, 4% nuclear, >1% solar. Attached is a graph showing Moorhead's power supply mix, which is roughly 59% renewable energy, exceeding that which is required by state law.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Dan Mahli (City staff) | dan.mahli@cityofmoorhead.com | 218-299-5314
Partners: Moorhead Public Service
Morris - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
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Year action initially completed: ?
Implementation details:
Morris's electrical utility is Otter Tail Power Company, and they generate 20% of their energy through renewable sources.
Morris's UMN campus produces 60% of its energy with 2, 2 MW wind turbines, and Morris Area Schools are installing 8 kW of Solar in the Spring of 2019.
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Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
Partners: Morris Area Public Schools, University of Minnesota-Morris
Northfield - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2017
Implementation details:
The City of Northfield has subscribed to a Community Solar Garden through CleanChoice Energy (originally MN Community Solar) as of August 2017. This subscription provides electricity for approximately 80% of the City buildings in Rice County. The WWTP is in Dakota County and was not eligible to be part of the subscription.
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For more information contact:
Beth Kallestad (City staff) | beth.kallestad@ci.northfield.mn.us | 507-645-3074
Partners:
Stillwater - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2016
Implementation details:
The city currently has 25-year deals with two different solar garden facilities; which will equate to 28.5% of city wide energy used by city government being generated by solar sources. In 2016 the city committed to the City Hall being powered completely by 3rd party solar energy (7.5% of city wide energy). The city is currently in the process of switching the Rec Center and Lily Lake Arena to 3rd party solar energy. Last month, in March 2019, the city started its first of two phases to switch over to solar power at these sites; and the second phase will commence this Fall, which will result in an additional 21% of city energy powered by solar.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
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For more information contact:
Tom McCarty (City staff) | tmccarty@ci.stillwater.mn.us | 651-430-8800
Partners:
Albert Lea - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
Minnesota Three LLC's Solar Array is a collaborative effort between Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services (Albert Lea), People's Energy Cooperative (Oronoco) and Tri-County Electric Cooperative (Rushford) to bring commercial-grade solar energy to southeastern Minnesota. The 517 kW solar array began generating electricity on June 30, 2014, and harvests enough of the sun's rays to power about 60 homes.
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For more information contact:
Jerry Gabrielatos (City staff) | jgabrielatos@ci.albertlea.mn.us | 507-377-4316
Partners:
Apple Valley - 1 star
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The City's utility Dakota Electric sources 20% of their electrical generation from renewables (hydro, wind, natural gas, and refuse derived.

In addition, the Apple Valley Liquor Store #3 is the first business in the state of Minnesota to receive a “Green Globe Award” for Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Stewardship. We have gone completely Geothermal for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration. We also boast fully automated lighting which adjust to the sunlight that shines through skylights throughout the entire building. All-in-all the City of Apple Valley is saving over 50% in energy costs by investing in environmentally conscious efforts.
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For more information contact:
Charless Grawe (City staff) | CGrawe@ci.apple-valley.mn.us | 952-953-2508
Partners:
Austin - 1 star
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The City purchases electrical power from Austin Utilities which gets it's power from SMMPA. 14.3% of SMMPA's power comes from the renewable energy sources whcih is less than the requirement, working to get it to 15%
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Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Janet Anderson (Community volunteer) | janetanderson2840@gmail.com | 5072190680
Partners: City staff, Austin Utilities
Hermantown - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The City of Hermantown currently purchases its electricity from Minnesota Power who generates 20% of their power from renewable sources. Primary sources include wind, hydro and, some biomass, with plans to grow its presence in the renewable sector in the future.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Carbon emissions from electric use by the City of Hermantown are diminished by 20%, and continue to grow
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Adam Fulton (City staff) | afulton@hermantownmn.com | 218-729-3618
Partners:
Lake Crystal - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The city purchases electricity from Heartland Consumer Power District and then distributes it as a municipal utility. In our contract with them it states that 15% of our electricity comes from renewable sources (primarily from wind turbines)
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For more information contact:
Taylor Gronau (City staff) | lccity@hickorytech.net | 507-726-2538
Partners:
North Saint Paul - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The City buys renewable energy that is used by the City. The energy comes from a couple of different sources, the City's wind generator located at our utility building and a large wind farm located in southern MN.

The City currently purchases 12% renewably generated power.

Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Keith Stachowski (City staff) | Keith.Stachowski@northstpaul.org | 651-747-2423
Partners:
Pierz - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The City of Pierz currently purchases its electricity from Minnesota Power who generates 20% of their power from renewable sources. Primary sources include wind, hydro and, some biomass, with plans to grow its presence in the renewable sector in the future and be 44% renewable by 2025
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Carbon emissions from electric use are diminished by 20%, and continue to grow.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Kari Tyson (City staff) | karit@pierzmn.org | 320-468-6471
Partners:
Red Wing - 1 star
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Implementation details:
The city's progressing solar energy project (installing solar panels on 5 city buildings - 4 of 5 projects have been approved by Xcel Energy with 1 still pending as of 8/13/12) will allow us to produce a lot of our own energy instead of needing to purchase energy at all, let alone from renewable sources.
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For more information contact:
Paul Drotos (City staff) | paul.drotos@ci.red-wing.mn.us | 651-410-6744
Partners:
Rogers - 1 star
Date action report first entered:
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Implementation details:
The City of Rogers was recently awarded a grant to install solar panels at its Public Works facility. In the summer/fall of 2014, the City of Rogers Public Works building will have 210 silicon solar panels installed on its roof. The panels should generate enough energy to power the entire facility.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Mike Bauer (City staff) | mbauer@ci.rogers.mn.us | 763-428-1033
Partners:
Winthrop - 1 star
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We currently purchase our electricity from the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency who generates renewable energy from biomass, hydro and wind resources.
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For more information contact:
Melissa Lorenz (City staff) | cityclerk@winthropminnesota.com | 507-647-5306
Partners:
Ely - Pending
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The City purchases power from Lake Country Power. LCP utilizes renewables such as hydropower and is increasing renewable sources this year.
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For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff) | elyod@ely.mn.us | 218-226-5474
Partners: